Identification and elimination of obstacles to making Short Sea Shipping more successful

Since 1999 the Commission has been making a list of the factors hampering the development of Short Sea Shipping. These obstacles can be classified into five categories: its old-fashioned image, its complex administrative procedures, the lack of efficiency at ports, inconsistency in the application of rules and procedures among Member States and the fact that it is not integrated into the intermodal logistics chain.
The original list of bottlenecks (161) has been reduced to 35 today.
Practical points to be addressed to DG TAXUD.

1.  The European Commission should abolish customs procedures for SSS but therefore problems with mixed consignments have to be overcome.
2.  The status of a customs authorised regular liner service should be linked to the line and not to the ship. It should also be expanded to non-EU ports in function of the expansion of the EU and privileged trade partners. An additional difficulty in this respect is that liner status cannot be obtained when touching third country port.
3.  Transport of goods per sea and river barge between inland ports and short sea shipping should only be controlled at the destination of the goods.  
4.  Ships should be allowed to start discharging operations immediately after their arrival without being obliged to first complete reporting formalities.
ESPO views

ESPO sees the bottleneck exercise as a good method to identify concrete obstacles. ESPO however is of the view that the number and (lack of) detail of the bottleneck fiches make it difficult to act upon them. The Commission should try to reduce the number of general fiches so that efforts can be concentrated on making changes at the country-specific level through bilateral and multi-lateral actions.

ESPO invites the Commission to focus its consultation round on five priority topics:

1.   clear guidelines on port financing;
2.   sustainable development of port capacity;
3.   solving operational bottlenecks;
4.   creating stable relations with port service providers;
5.   promotion of the overall competitiveness and positive image of European seaports
Topic 3 “solving operational bottlenecks that hamper efficiency of ports” is in line with the Commission’s bottleneck exercise under the Short Sea Shopping Promotion Programme.

Broadly speaking, these operational bottlenecks, relate to:

1.   technical-nautical services provided in and on maritime approaches to ports,
2.   cargo handling services and port labour,
3.   administrative bureaucracy, controls and inspections and
4.   inefficiencies in hinterland transport.